“Coming to America Motivated Me"

Immigrating to America as a Teenager Pushed Yan Skabara to Fulfill His Potential

September 26, 2019
Yan Skabara

When Yan Skabara was 14, he moved with his mother to Atlanta from their native Russia. While most teenagers would have been surly at being lifted from a familiar environment during their stormy teenage years, Skabara saw it as an opportunity. “I could mold myself into a new person,” said Skabara.

“Coming to America motivated me,” recalled Skabara. “I didn’t go out as much. I focused on learning English and re-evaluated what was important to me.” (His grasp of English would put native speakers to shame.)

He eventually moved to Florida and attended the University of Central Florida (UCF). At UCF, he initially intended to become a physician, but stumbled upon the PA profession. “Becoming a PA made me realize I could find what I was most passionate about. I didn’t have to fit into any kind of cookie-cutter mold,” said Skabara. “If you’re a doctor you choose one specialty and you’re in that specialty for the rest of your life. As a PA you don’t have to make that choice. You have a plethora of different options along with lateral flexibility.”

On a MedLife trip to Peru during college, Skabara decided to arrive early to visit Machu Picchu. Travelling around a foreign country without knowing the language left a mark on him. “I really felt it was an opportunity for growth,” said Skabara. “I realized that it would be essential for me since Spanish is the second leading language in the United States."

Skabara was attracted to the School of Health Science’s-Manhattan PA program because of the school’s behavioral health track. When he discovered that a GRE score wasn’t required for admittance to the program, he used the three months he planned to study for the exam to study abroad in Chile and work on his Spanish.

Recently, he visited Russia and met with his old friends. He said that the visit brought back many memories and helped prepare him for the next few years of PA school in New York, a city he dreamed of living in. "I have come a long way, and none of it would be possible if it wasn't for my family—especially my mother.”